The former head of the Royal Marines has died suddenly at the age of 54.
Major General Matthew Holmes passed away on Saturday and the circumstances of his death are being investigated, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
His devastated colleagues have paid tribute to “one of our most senior and highly decorated Royal Marines”.
The Major General – who had served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan – was Commandant General Royal Marines from 2019 until April this year, Plymouth Live reports.
He commanded Plymouth-based 42 Commando from 2006 to 2008 and was appointed as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership on operations in Afghanistan in 2007.
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He was also awarded a CBE in 2019 – and was a pall bearer for Prince Philip, helping to carry the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin at Windsor Castle.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said he was “deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death” of his friend, adding: “We mourn the loss of one of our most senior and highly decorated Royal Marines; a devoted former Commandant General who had served the nation, the Royal Navy and his beloved Corps with distinction for 33 years.
“Matt was also a dear friend to many, and a close friend of mine for over 20 years. He will be sorely missed by the Service and especially the Corps Family.
“But my thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with Matt’s family.”
Commandant General Royal Marines, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan CB CBE, said: “My predecessor as Commandant General Royal Marines and my friend, Matt Holmes, tragically died at the weekend. My heart goes out to him and his family.
“We will honour him and all those closest to him. But I also think of you all.
“It matters not that he was a General, but it does that he is a Royal Marine. I remember and celebrate him, alongside all those who he is with now.
“We are one family, together, just as we learned, and as we trained, alongside each other at the Commando Training Centre. Once a marine, always a marine.”
The married dad’s death is being treated as non-suspicious and it is understood that he took his own life, the Telegraph reported.
The Ministry of Defence said its thoughts, sympathies and deepest heartfelt condolences were with family and friends of Major General Holmes.
A spokesman requested that their privacy is respected.